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Rochester Legal Community Welcomes Diverse Group of Interns

Patti Singer

The Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program, which started in 2005, welcomed another group of students who just completed their first year of law school. A total of 11 first-years will work in the Rochester legal community this summer.
Photo by Patti Singer/Minority Reporter Media Group

First-year law students don’t always get the opportunity to put what they learned in the classroom to work in the real world.

Minority students can find that is a particular challenge.

“Being a first-year student, especially a student of color, it’s difficult to get internships,” said Allana Benton, who finished her first year at University at Buffalo School of Law.

She is among 11 students who earned positions in the Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program.

The program, which started in 2005, aims to increase diversity in the legal profession locally by offering paid positions with Rochester-area law firms and legal employers to qualified first-year students from groups that are under-represented in the field.

“Being in this program gives us an opportunity … that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to get,” said Benton, who is from Buffalo but lived in Rochester for a year when she was younger.

Benton will work at Constellation Brands, where she said she will be involved with trademark agreements and contracts. “Being a first-year, I’m not sure what kind of law I want to do. This helps me get experience in different areas so that I know where I want to take the next steps.”

The Rochester Legal Diversity Clerkship Program is co-sponsored by the Monroe County Bar Association, the Rochester Black Bar Association and the Greater Rochester Association for Women Attorneys. The program has been recognized by the American Bar Association and been lauded for innovation.

The interns were introduced to the legal community June 6 at a reception at Harter Secrest & Emery.

Allana Benton attends the University at Buffalo School of Law. She will intern this summer
at Constellation Brands.

Here are the current interns, their school and their summer employment:

  • Jesutowo Adeniji, University at Buffalo, Nixon Peabody LLP
  • Halima Begum, Albany Law School, NYS Supreme Court
  • Allana Benton, University at Buffalo, Constellation Brands
  • Alexandra Casey, Syracuse University College of Law, Harris Beach PLLC
  • Justice Dunwoody, University at Buffalo Barclay Damon, LLP
  • Ashley Gordon, University at Buffalo ,Vahey Getz LLP
  • Akash Patel, University at Buffalo, Pullano & Farrow PLLC /Boylan Code
  • Hailey Trippany, Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Eastman Kodak Co.
  • Dagan VanDemark, University at Buffalo, Legal Aid Society
  • Yiran Wu, Emory University School of Law, Disability Rights New York
  • Binghu (Bessie) Zhao, University of Wisconsin School of Law, Nixon Peabody LLP